Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

AWB: a good quote « Previous | |Next »
March 25, 2006

The AWB affair--the wheat scandal--- continues to grind away, thanks to the stirling work of the Cole Inquiry. We citizens have lost all sense of the details of events and we often feel that the issue is like this:


However, we know there is more at issue under the surface. An interesting quote in an article by Mike Skeketee in The Weekend Australian, which indicates the politocal reality of power in Canberra, opens up to look beneath the surface:

Departments used to be sources of independent advice for ministers, offering them the benefits of long experience and expertise on issues that they perhaps were confronting for the first time. But, according to former senior Department of Defence bureaucrat and foreign affairs official Allan Behm, "the current public service doesn't proffer advice. It simply carries out what it is instructed to do. I think there is a very serious dumbing down of the public service in that sense."

Well gone are the days of frank and fearless advice delivered by the mandarins of the federal bureaucracy.

If this is the case, then the Government bears responsiblity for AWB lining Saddam's pockets through bribes on wheat exports as the Howard government was going to war with the Barthist regime. From this perspective the senior Ministers (John Howard, Mark Vaile, Alexander Downer) consistently turned a blind eye to 26 warnings before the Volker inquiry began in April 2004, and they initially failed to cooperate with Volker for up to 4 months by handing over classified documents.

The inference?

The Government did not want to know about the allegations against AWB for the use of bribes and its deliberate deception. Trade was more important than busting UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein. The inference? Contempt for the UN sanction regime.

As Sketekee points out the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade the department had a serious conflict of interest: foreign policy required it to help enforce sanctions but trade policy demanded that it promote wheat exports. The Minister, Alexander Downer, would give the direction and the priorities. That's his responsibility---and it was trade not foreign policy.

Downer should be made accountible for his actions, like any one else. The charge? Negligence, at the least.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:50 PM | | Comments (5)


and don't forget that Downer was also at the time holding both A and B class shares in AWB in his "hands off" private investment portfolio. So a total conflict of interest that means if he does not resign he must be pushed in order to stop the rot that now undermines Howard himself - all this is no thanks to the largely apathetic Australian public who don't seem to mind Mr Howards's lies as long as they personally aren't harmed (present company excepted). Rather than concern over backhanding millions to the enemy they only seem to worry about if the wheat trade will suffer. And still they call themselves patriotric Australians and defend Howard, Downer and Vaile and their callous disregard for Australia's international reputation.

The A.W.B.Scandal and the who cares re-action of the chattering class, was just as expected by Howard Downer et al.They have once again played a blinder,these excuses for human beings make my skin crawl.But I gotta tell ya,they don't make my skin crawl as much as the retards that voted for this mob of mis-fits.You know,I heared some middle aged women with a plum in her voice the other day on a Perth talk back radio station.She said(Imagine a Thatcher clone)"But of course this whole A.W.B.thing is just a left wing media beat up".I nearly ripped out my car radio and ate it.To say I was furious is an understatement.Im sure if I had a gun and was close enough I would have shot her.STREWTH.And this lady's and gentlemen is what political discourse has come to.We can pass draconian industrial relations laws that would make uncle Joe Stalin proud,lock up women and children,and the mentally ill in detention centres,Tell lies with gay abandon with a straight face,be party to the extermination of thousands of Iraq civilians,turn a blind eye to the slow extermination of our own Aboriginal people, etc etc etc.But hey we have never had it so good?low interest rates and jobs.Oh and not forgetting all that Gold at the Commonwealth Games.What a sorry lot we all are.

"The Government did not want to know about the allegations against AWB for the use of bribes and its deliberate deception. Trade was more important than busting UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein. The inference? Contempt for the UN sanction regime."

Too true and the further inference? Ongoing contempt for those who believe that continuing those sanctions was the answer to Saddam. So what else is new?

as usual you try to shift the issue.

It is not about going or not going to war. You could, for instance, support the decision to war with Iraq, and then argue that it was wrong to continue to trade with an enemy; and or to pay them bribes or kickbacks.

The issue is one of responsibility: the Howard Government was under a clear obligation to ensure that no money was paid to Hussein in breach of UN resolutions designed to prevent the regime from obtaining prohibited weapons. It failed to do so.

Just to highlight the irony: on the one hand, Saddam Hussein complied with the UN's resolution's core disarnment requirements--no weapons of mass destruction were found by the Coalition of the Willing.

On the other hand, the Howard Government failed to comply with its own obligations to enforce the resolutions-they did not prevent our corporations (AWB)from making prohibited funds available to the Hussein regime as they were required to do so.

Howard, Vaile and Downer are negligent and DFAT is incompetent.

Great reading, keep up the great posts.
Peace, JiggaDigga